Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Headed to California

If a single item from one's family estate ended up in California, wouldn't it be reasonable to presume the rest of the estate might have been kept in California, as well?

Of course, my premise that the mystery photo album I found in a California antique shop came from a local estate sale may be flawed. Who knows? Perhaps antique dealers search far and wide for the trinkets they sell for under twenty dollars. But I doubt it.

Then again, perhaps the album, while ending up in California, might have originally been mailed to a recipient who lived elsewhere in the United States—or anywhere else on the continent, for that matter.

I think these things out, over and over, as I try to discern that invisible pathway taken by that mystery photo album, from the County Cork home of Harry and Alice Reid to its unknown destination, back in 1936. Since no surnames were used in the notes accompanying the photos on each page of the album, I presume that means it was a gift meant for family, who would know, despite their lack, just who was meant by each nickname.

But which family member might have been the recipient? After all, though Alice Hawkes Reid had only one brother—an unmarried one at that, back in 1936—she also had twelve aunts and uncles, just on her father's side of the family. I haven't even begun to trace the generations descending from her mother's side of the family. And if the recipient was someone on her husband's side of the family, Harry had at least seven siblings that I've been able to find, and several more half-siblings much older than he.

Of those possibilities which I have been able to document, I had found one brother on the Hawkes side of the family who might eventually have settled in Los Angeles. While that city might be the epitome of California in many people's minds, it also is a distance of at least three hundred fifty miles from the shop where I retrieved the photo album. Besides, the 1948 California death record for Richard Hawkes, while providing the right mother's maiden name and birth outside the country, also contained the wrong middle name. Could it be just a coincidence that his parents' surnames were Hawkes and Gibbons?

True, Alice Hawkes Reid had two uncles who had immigrated to another part of the United States—both originally heading to the New York metro area, then moving beyond. But we've already examined the life of Thomas Gibbons Hawkes—who, incidentally, had died long before the 1936 album was composed—and that of his descendants for possible California connections without much success. And his brother—and their father's namesake, Quayle Welsted Hawkes—though moving to Westchester County in New York, had also died long before our mystery album was sent.

On the other side of Alice's family, though, there may have been some in-laws who could qualify as California recipients. Not that they were there in California in 1936—but at least they arrived there some time after that point, bringing their belongings with them. At least, we can presume.

The one most likely candidate family would be that of Harry Reid's older brother, Richard. Born in 1887 at Grange Cottage in County Cork, Richard eventually enrolled as part of the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force during the first World War. Eventually, he ended up in Canada, where he married Amy Lucking. Together, they became parents of a son and three daughters.

By the time the third child was born, the family was no longer living in the Toronto area, but in Buffalo, New York. While I realize Buffalo is a far cry from California—even northern California—the family does eventually get around to making a California connection. At least two of the four children spent some of their adult years living in California. A third may also have lived there for a while. Best discovery yet: some of those California residences could be considered to be reasonably close to the location of the shop where I found that photo album.

Could any of those nieces or nephews of Harry and Alice Reid have inherited a photo album sent originally to their parents in Buffalo, New York? Could they have kept it all those years, while moving cross-country to a new home in sunny California?

Those are the types of questions I have for one of those family members, once we connect and can talk about it.

In the meantime, another idea occurred to me: what if the owner of the antique store kept a log of where each inventory item originated? Could it be possible that there is a record of where the photo album was obtained by the shop?

That's a project for another day. Soon.


  1. I vote for the antique shop! Sometimes they remember just the smallest things and where they got them:)

    1. Here's hoping...although, as I'm finding out, nothing is ever simple.


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